The deadly race to the South Pole

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  • Published on:  Monday, February 4, 2019
  • Two exploration teams raced to the South Pole. Only one made it out alive. Correction: A previous version of this video used an outdated British flag. The error has been corrected. We also occasionally referred to the British team as English. In fact, some members of Scott's team were Scottish and Welsh.Help us make our channel more ambitious by joining the Vox Video Lab. Becoming a member brings you closer to our work and gets you exclusive perks, like livestream Q&As with your favorite Vox creators. Learn more at to our channel! Falcon Scott was a British explorer who dreamed of being the first person to reach the South Pole. In 1912, he reached the Pole only to learn that his Norwegian rival, Roald Amundsen, had beat him to it. Caught by freakish weather and a string of bad luck, his entire party died trying to get back. Reasons for his failure range from his use of ponies rather than dogs to a highly unusual temperature drop that made the journey back impossible to survive.Darkroom is a new series from Vox producer Coleman Lowndes that digs into stories of the past, one photograph at a time. Watch all the episodes here: is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out our full video catalog: Vox on Facebook: Twitter:
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  • Vox


     5 months ago +191

    Hey Darkroom fans! We've released a video extra from Coleman about Robert Falcon Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole in the Video Lab. Sign up here and check it out!

  • Yegor Svirsky

    Yegor Svirsky

     2 months ago +1687

    *first line of video
    "Everyone in this photo died"
    Me: jesus ok

  • Ninpeg


     2 months ago +1524

    -Talks about British and Norwegian explorers
    -Uses °F

  • VoLiTioNvx


     5 months ago +904

    I wish you guys expanded on Oates' sacrifice. Dude tells the team "I am just going outside and may be some time." because he knew his worsening condition was holding back the rest of the team and they'd have a chance if he sacrificed himself. And so he did.
    That got glossed over in this video but I always found that story to be heroic. That man had balls of steel to face certain death if it meant he could help his team survive. It was in vain, sure. But... I always felt it was noble of him to accept his fate and give others a chance.

  • Læffy Fan

    Læffy Fan

     4 months ago +811

    Imagine bringing ponies to the south pole this was made by Amundsen gang

  • Kyle Jones

    Kyle Jones

     5 months ago +242

    It doesn't surprise me the Norwegians were able to ski so much better. They are crazy good with skis

  • Kolberg


     6 months ago +425

    Just to flex on you non norwigans

  • Taikamuna


     6 months ago +342

    I'm starting to really like these short documentaries. I can't wait for the other episodes

  • Stickman


     6 months ago +158

    Oh this looks like an interesting vide-
    ... I was correct

  • A Pelletier

    A Pelletier

     6 months ago +542

    I see most of Scott's mistakes as systemic, a result of Royal Navy groupthink. The manhauling, the ponies, the ill-suited clothing, all had been used in previous British expeditions and carried into this one.
    But Scott's worst mistake isn't mentioned at all in the video. It was deciding, atop the Glacier, to add a fifth member to his Polar party, despite having only planned rations for four. Once again, it can be argued it's a systemic error, because It was done ostensibly for protocol, in order to have a representative of every branch of the British Army at the pole. And so he picked Oates, who had been in charge of the ponies (which weren't even around anymore) and had no previous Polar experience or skill to help his team. Scott still would not have beat Amundsen, but he might have had the supplies needed to make it back to camp alive. Sadly, that must have weighed heavy on Oates' mind when he walked off into that blizzard, never to be seen again.

  • radudeATL


     5 months ago +149

    I... am a bit... speechless. What a remarkable story, and told extremely well.
    This is why I love youtube.

  • Håkon big boi

    Håkon big boi

     6 months ago +129

    I was going to make a joke talking about how Norwegians is the best but now am just sad

  • Chrinan


     6 months ago +79

    Why did you not include more about Roald Amundsen and his team? Their journey in my opinion is just as fascinating.

  • Mads V

    Mads V

     5 months ago +88

    Nice. I saw the new "Amundsen" movie on cinema today. Surprisingly exciting and thrilling. It shows the Norwegian side of the race. Amundsen's childhood, earlier expeditions, conversations with the British, and the North Pole expedition ect.
    In a speech after Amundsen (Norwegians) had returned safe home from the South Pole, he was in the UK for dinner and was supposed to receive an honorary speech, but in the speech, the british said at the end: "Let us honor the brave. Cheers for the dogs!" (The British noble man did not mention the Norwegian crew, just their dogs). Amundsen got little disappointed of the British because he felt they became bad losers.

  • D.McIn007


     4 months ago +42

    Scotts team was not english. It was British. The majority of the team were from Scotland.

  • yanita


     6 months ago +63

    HYVÄ NORJA!! 🇳🇴 Your neighbors are proud of you, greetings from Finland!

  • BØA


     6 months ago +148

    Roald Amundsen was in my family.
    He lived in a city in Norway called Sarpsborg. He's my great grandmother's cousin.

  • Beth Dahl

    Beth Dahl

     6 months ago +276

    I mean, it wasn't just the tropping temperatures that killed Scott's team:
    1. Scurvy. There was no vitamin C in their diet. The only they got was the tiny amount from eating fresh meat.
    2. The ponies and electrical sleds would never have worked out, even under the best of circumstances, for several reasons. Many of the ponies died horrible deaths, because they left the horses' snow shoes at base, for example.
    3. They WALKED. The Amundsen team skied and saved so much energy and time. The britts refused, even though they had a Norwegian at their base strongly advising them to learn how. Scott also went against much of Nansen's advise.
    4. Clothes. Their clothes started falling apart from overuse, which really didn't help when the temperatures dropped.. Amundsen brought extra seal skin coats he never got to use. Just in case.
    5. The people waiting at the base could have sent a search team for them. But their "English pride" or whatever you want to call it, prevented them from doing so.
    6. Heavy equipment. For some reason they couldn't navigate without really heavy equipment. Also other science equipment they should have ditched along the way, to save the team's lives.
    7. Last minute change of plans: They decided to include one new team member last minute. Really didn't help with those food reserves.
    8. Food. They didn't have enough of it. They didn't have enough calories. If there was one thing that killed Scott's team, it was slow starvation. He didn't make the right calculations of how much energy it takes to haul several pounds of food and equipment through snow and cold temperatures.
    This was a horrible tragedy. But it wasn't just due to temperature changes. There was also a lot of human error, other cases of bad luck... and hubris. At the end of the day, Scott was responsible for his team's well-being, and he led them all to an early grave.

  • Unbiased History

    Unbiased History

     5 months ago +92

    “We are very near the end, but have not and will not lose our good cheer.”
    -Robert Falcon Scott

  • Elias Berget

    Elias Berget

     yesterday +2

    Since i’m from Norway i’ve heard this story 1000 times before